Im looking for the change in numbers of people diagnosed with hearing impairment/ tinnitus over the last 15 years. It affects up to 10% of adults in the UK and can be distressing. No obligation to buy a hearing aid. People are susceptible to the condition, but it is most concentrated to those over 60 years old. The intensity of the conflict in Helmand and its close-combat fighting, roadside devices and the noise of low-flying coalition aircraft caused the problems, according to the Ministry of Defence study. The report, dated 7 December and written by military consultant surgeon Chris Pearson, warns that the known scale of the problem might prove to be the “tip of the iceberg” because only the most severe forms of hearing loss, grave enough to bar troops from frontline service, are officially reported. Hearing tests were conducted on 1,254 troops from 42 Commando Royal Marines following their six-month tour in Helmand between April and October 2008.
The study drug AUT00063 targets a specific part of the nerve cells which play a key role at many levels of the hearing brain. Of these, 410 were classified as having more extreme cases. Tinnitus is often described as a ringing, hissing, buzzing, roaring or humming sound, but it is not a disease or illness. Haggard said the blast of a gun or “medium” explosion measured 140dB, equivalent to hearing a jet plane taking off about 40m away. The sound of a pneumatic drill at two metres distance measures 126dB while an alarm clock is 90dB. The normal pain threshold is around 120dB. The MoD study, The Extent of Operational NIHL, also points towards major problems among reservists deployed to Helmand.
Pearson’s report reveals that one in 10 Territorial Army recruits also experienced a significant degree of hearing loss following their tour of duty which was “unlikely to be due to anything other than noise or blast”. For many people, tinnitus doesn’t appear to be linked to any other ear problems. The MoD report also scrutinised in detail the medical records of 73 soldiers who had served in Helmand province and found that 67 had problems with their hearing. Of these 39 were diagnosed with noise-induced hearing loss with 16 new cases of hearing problems thought to be from “blast injury”.